Taste more, learn more, cook better

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:58pm
 

The fourth round of the Towngas Young Master Chef took place on Wednesday. Private kitchen pioneer Jacky Yu tested contestants on their ability to handle flour-based dishes.

Yu taught the contestants to make Mum's Turnip Pancake, a dish which relies heavily on the perfect balance of glutinous rice flour and grain rice flour. Twenty individuals and teams went into this round, but two would say goodbye. Contestants had to focus on calculating ingredient proportions, with the goal of creating the most scrumptious turnip cakes.

Check out how Round Four went ...

The dark horse rises

For the past few weeks, Leung Ching-ki has played down his talents, coming across as merely average. But this hidden gem decided to unleash his true ability in this round.

Ching-ki accomplished this feat by going above and beyond to make his turnip pancakes stand out; instead of mixing all the ingredients (dried scallops, shrimps, black mushrooms and dried sausages), he made a thin pancake out of each ingredient to create a stack of thin pancakes, each with its own flavour.

'He learned [about] my dish and gave it his own variations,' chef Yu said. 'A contestant with such creativity has the potential to become a big-name chef.'

To decorate his dish, Ching-ki boiled shredded turnips, set them on the plate in a crisscross pattern and spread a thin layer of a thickened soup base on top. The inspiration, he said, came from his study of cookbooks, a way to relax during his HKDSE period. By reading them, he picked up the art of deconstructing and customising recipes.

A moment of panic

As the competition heated up, the contestants showed signs of crumbling under the pressure. More contestants were found making unnecessary rookie errors in this round.

Wicky Leung Po-ling and Yiki Yim Ching-ki panicked when they noticed their turnips weren't blanched properly. 'It's hard to control the water,' Yiki said, 'and I didn't know when the turnips were cooked.'

The team said they felt lost because they stole glances at the teams around them, and each of them was blanching turnips in a different way. Wicky said knowing the dish would be judged also made her nervous. 'It's so different from cooking at home,' she added.

Chef Yu spotted the problem and helped the team turn up the flame. 'Your water is not boiling,' he told them.

Yu had earlier advised the team when they left their recipe sheet too close to the flame.

Another contestant, Grace Chan Ying-yu, also forgot to switch off the gas before rushing to the judging zone to present her dish.

Contestants' farewell

Making their way to the top 20 is not easy. These two contestants have already done a tremendous job. But unfortunately, their Towngas Young Master Chef journey ends here:

Name: Nicole Marie De Witt

Age: 17

Speciality: Thai food, especially Pad Thai.

Difficulties: 'Lessons were a bit difficult as I don't understand Chinese, but luckily I had a translator.'

Lessons learned: Patience while cooking, organisation skills and culinary creativity.

Message to contestants: Try not to faint (Nicole was not in her best shape on the day), have fun and good luck!

Name: Amanda Lam Wai-man

Speciality: Chinese cuisine

Difficulties: It was hard to adjust the thickness of the turnip cakes. Some were too thick, and thus undercooked.

Lessons learned: Familiarity with different styles of cooking; used an oven for the first time.

Message to contestants: Keep up and chase your goal.

Tutor: Jacky Yu

Kitchen experience: 20+ years of cooking experience, owner of the restaurant Xi Yan, pioneer of private kitchen-style cooking

Speciality: Fusion Asian cuisines

Comments: The general performance is great, especially as it's the first time most of the contestants had made this dish.

Advice: The contestants need to practise more, and take the initiative to taste different dishes. Practice makes perfect; and only by tasting more dishes can the contestants tell whether something is good or bad.

Awesome prizes:

1st: Cooking trip to Le Cordon Bleu, flown to Paris by Air France

2nd: Cooking trip to Beijing

3rd: Cooking lessons at Hong Kong's Michelin-starred restaurant, Cuisine Cuisine

Next week, the contestants will be back for yet another challenge, and another two chefs will be eliminated.

Stay tuned to the feeds on our Facebook and twitter, @youngposthk, next Wednesday from 10am to 1pm for instant updates and photos. Check out next Friday's Young Post for the full story.

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